Over 150,000 people took to the streets of London to show their rage at the Israeli state’s assault on Gaza and to show their solidarity with the Palestinian resistance.
Marchers began at Portland Place and marched to Downing Street. The march was a sea of Palestine flags, mocking home secretary Suella Braverman’s idea that the Tories could outlaw this show of support.
The march, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was full of young people and large groups of black, Asian and Arab people who came to show their support for the Palestinians. Young women were central to many of the groups of marchers.
Marcher Mohammed, originally from Gaza, told Socialist Worker that Israel’s lethal assaults can only be described as another Nakba. This is a reference to the 1948 ethnic cleansing and murder that founded the Israeli state.
“The Israeli state is telling those from Gaza to move south and to Egypt. I think they will continue to bomb them as they leave to push them into Egypt, and then, of course, they won’t be able to come back,” he said. “We have no right of return.”
It wasn’t a defensive march, despite attempts from the Tories and the media to intimidate people into not going on to the streets.
Protester Grace said the Tories’ support for Israel makes her “furious”. “Are war crimes okay? In some ways, I’m not surprised by their response. But I am disappointed by Labour’s response. However, Keir Starmer is shit on everything, so it’s not a total surprise,” she said.
Protester Jack added, “Israeli forces are massacring men, women and children. They are indiscriminately bombing, and there is no way for them to escape.
“That’s been the plan of the Israeli state from the beginning to have Palestine without the Palestinians. “
“It is the next Nakba, but also, the Nakba that began 75 years ago never really ended.”
Other activists raged against the attacks by the Tories, the Labour Party and the right wing media, who dehumanise the Palestinians and intimidate those who support their right to resist.
London local government worker Hamid said, “People where I work are divided. Some believe the lies about Palestinians being terrorists, but others are for the rights of the Palestinians.
“It is horrible to see the Labour Party be with the government over this. Are they not for justice?
Mohammed added, “I’m watching the news, following what is happening in my home every day. I watch the Western media, and it’s so clear that it hides what is happening. There’s so much fake information about what is going on.
“The news presents all Palestinians as terrorists. It’s a way of them suggesting that killing us is okay.”
As protesters made their way to Whitehall, they chanted, “Netanyahu, you can’t hide. We charge you with apartheid” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Naljaa told Socialist Worker, “They say that Palestinians hate Jewish people. We don’t. Before the Zionists came Christians, Palestinians, and Jews lived in Palestine together.
She added that everyone must rage against colonialism and imperialism not only in Palestine but across the world.
Jack added oppressed people should always be supported to resist in any way they choose.
“When people are trying to wipe you off the face of the Earth, you fight back in any way. Our rulers will say their violence is the only legitimate type.
“When liberals condemn violence when it comes from the oppressed, I say back — colonialism is violent.”
Hiba added that the demonstration and the massive mobilisations gave her hope.
“I woke up feeling awful. The news is hard to watch. But being at the demonstration and being around people who agree with me has made me feel better.
“My grandparents were expelled from Palestine in 1948. However far away from Palestine I am, it will always live in me.
“Despite everything, the resistance we saw last week gave me hope. I am more sure, more than ever, we will win.”
One notable absence on the march was the lack of trade union banners. Only a handful were present mainly because union leaders had run away from building it.
Predictably, but disgracefully, there was virtually no Labour Party turnout. “I haven’t brought our branch banner, we’ll be expelled,” a Labour Party member told Socialist Worker.
Labour’s general secretary David Evans wrote to all Constituency Labour Party branch secretaries on Saturday to issue “guidance” which states that no Labour MPs would be able to speak at the demonstration. He added that any Labour members present at the protest (or showing support on social media) would be liable to face disciplinary action.
Time to leave Labour and join the socialists.
These are urgent times and there’s a new mood of resistance and fightback. Every hour now matters. Socialists and Palestine campaigners should be:
There were dozens of protests in towns and cities outside London too. In Glasgow some 10,000 people marched to the city centre – and then launched an impromptu march to the BBC headquarters.
Hector reports an “angry and determined” mood.
“The demo gave everyone a sense that it’s possible to see through the media narrative and push back,” he said.
Elsewhere in Scotland, up to 2,000 people rallied in Edinburgh, while 250 protested in Aberdeen.
There was also a significant protest in Dundee, where up to 500 rallied. Activists report that there were “many excellent speeches but one which stood out. A young Palestinian explained, very sadly, that members of his family had died under Israeli bombardment today.”
There was a great response to speakers who called for a new workers’ uprising in the Middle East.
Manchester saw up to 5,000 overwhelmingly young Muslim people and families marching through the city centre.
Several hundred joined a protest outside the BBC in Liverpool and chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” There were also protests in Bolton and Wigan in Greater Manchester.
The local newspaper estimates that the Bolton demo was 2,000-strong.
In Newcastle, around 800 people protested and took to the streets. Local activists report that the march was led by big gangs of teenagers of Asian and Arab origin but that lots of young white people joined in as the protest traversed the town.
A speaker who made the connection between the crimes of British imperialism in India and the Middle East was particularly well received.
Further south, in Sheffield, some 2,500 people protested. As in many other areas, Socialist Worker sellers were inundated and soon ran out of papers and all other materials. And up to 400 people protested in Nottingham. The city had also sent coaches to the national demonstration.
In West Yorkshire, some 2,500 people joined a lively protest in Leeds, while up to 250 protested in Huddersfield.
In Bristol, some 700 people marched and chanted against mayor Marvin Rees who this week projected the Israeli flag onto the City Hall building.
Elliot said the “whole area nearby (the rally) has people with flags. Great atmosphere. Confidence feels high and people have seen that they can run the street”.
Around 400 joined a demonstration in Swansea.
Around 500 marched in Coventry, which like many towns in the Midlands also sent a coach to the national demonstration in London. Up the road in Derby some 250 people protested.
In the East of England some 500 people joined a rally in Norwich.
On the south coast of England around 300 people joined the protest in Plymouth. Activists there describe the demo as “very young, with lots of people from the Palestinian diaspora”.
Around 300 people protested in Bournemouth and 100 in Hastings.
Thanks to all who sent reports
They targeted the Egyptian embassy
Imperialism never helped Haiti
A threat to PM Narendra Modi
Plus: interview with Palestinian in Rafah